More home projects.

Because we are insane. You would truly truly have to be to even THINK about any sort of construction after the year we had. But we finally spoke about the unspeakable issue of our backyard, and now I think we are going to have to address it.

The issue is this:

Beautiful, gorgeous pool. I hate me too. I know. BUT BUT BUT, it literally takes up our ENTIRE back yard. there is about 3 feet of grass around it and then you can see at the back yet ANOTHER water feature.

And those pretty curved edges with the planters?

Means there is virtually no sort of safety cover that can protect it.

We put up a safety fence that blocks off the whole backyard, but it is 5 feet out of our back door and I feel like it is this looming danger right.there. all the time.

See…This is taken from my kitchen window. The planters are built into the pool structure and there is no way to remove them without having to do a bunch of repair to the pool. Our usable backyard is now that little stretch of patio. You can also see here the fountain in the back that I speak of at the end of the post…

I live in fear of the pool.

I mean what if somehow the gate gets left open? We have a splash alarm, but still. Gracie is only 17 months old, and we will have to worry about it until she is what, like 12? I don’t know. At least 8, right? And we want to have many more children, and live here forever, so that means for the next, what 12 years we have to live in fear of the pool?

I just wish it weren’t so darn fancy and nice. I wouldn’t feel so000 wasteful. I had no idea we would feel this way when we bought the house. Gracie still wasn’t walking and I figured tons of people have babies and pools- we would figure it out. But I just can’t.

So we called a landscaper to see about filling it in. Have any of you done this? Any advice/perspective? Am I making a rash decision here, or do you understand my parental insanity?

Depending on the cost/process we are thinking about keeping the little stretch of patio we have, just having a big beautiful open lawn for child play and swing sets and forts and general wholesome goodness where the pool was/is.

via Little Green Notebook

In my searches for inspiration I kept finding super pretty small little pools.Maybe we could expand the basin of the fountain at the very back into a little splash pool for summer splashy fun since it is 100+ degrees 5 months of the year, a pool isn’t a bad idea. And that way it would be set back and isolated, and we could design it for ultimate safety?Ours is just too big, too hard to safety proof, and too close to the house. If we did what we were thinking it would be much easier to safety proof, more like a permanent baby pool.

But that is neither here nor there. The issue now is whether or not to fill in the pool. And adopt a topiary animal.

You probably know what I am leaning towards.



  1. BJHOCBFD January 4, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    A dear friend, who currently lives in the affluent suburbs of Chicago, was raised from a tender young age with an in-ground pool in his backyard. While he is is prone to periodic crab attacks, he married his soul mate and together they raised 2 perfect sons. So, having a pool as part of his socialization process undoubtedly made him the stellar husband and father he is today, notwithstanding periodic hormone imbalances.

  2. H-town Betty January 4, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    Register your baby at Saint Street Swim which is maybe 30 seconds from your house. Put a fancy picket fence around the perimeter of your front yard and let lil’ mamma play there. Take her to the Cinderella park which is also 30 seconds from your house. You are from Houston, you know how nasty it is from May – October. Keep it real, keep the pool.

  3. Claire January 4, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    Fill it in. Join a club.

  4. lori January 5, 2013 at 12:35 am


    The planters can be removed. I know pool peeps. I will give you their names. I have lots of friends putting in pools – with kids ages 3-6. I say keep the pool. I think it can be done. Are you allowed front yard fences? We are currently planning on putting in a pool. I truly believe nothing wears out a kid better. My kids have been in swim lessons since they were so babies. When my sister came home from the hospital a pool was being dug in our backyard. It can be done safely. Now – all that being said- I completely understand the anxiety. But – with rules (for kids and kid caretakers) and some cameras all can be done successfully.

  5. Paula January 5, 2013 at 1:51 am

    I have 4 kids (now 15, 16, 19, 21) and did not have a pool until they were all 6 and knew how to swim well. And I live in Texas. The best advice I can give you is start swimming lessons ASAP whether you fill in the pool or not, especially since you live in texas. Don’t feel bad about filling in the pool. The safety risk and your constant worry is not worth it!!!!!!! I currently want a pool and everyone I know says don’t! It’s a money pit!

    p.s. I love your blog-

  6. Hayley January 5, 2013 at 3:38 am

    So glad you are removing the pool. We have dear friends who just lost their sweet baby Penny at just 22 months old drowning in their own pool. The most heart breaking thing in the whole entire world. Fill that baby up and don’t look back! Can’t wait to see pics!

  7. ErinG January 5, 2013 at 4:12 am

    I feel your pain. We moved into our home with a pool and a one year old and one month old. We did the fencing and alarms but I would still wake at night with massive anxiety. For me it wasn’t just about our kids, but their friends and eventual play dates. Ultimately the stress was bigger for me than any potential fun so we filled it in. While its true the our yard has had drainage issues, after some landscaping trial and error we’ve managed to create a nice little oasis. When its very hot we usually go on vacay anyway and when we are in town the kids have had years of major fun with baby pools, sprinklers and slip in slides. If the worry occupies an inordinate space in your brain then fill it and think of all the fun Gracie will have running around.

  8. Katie January 5, 2013 at 10:43 am

    We had the same situation in our last house and filled in our pool and never regretted it. Loved having a backyard, loved not taking care of the constant maintenance issue and most of all loved the peace of mind! There are so many pools around Houston to use, you don’t need one in your backyard.

  9. Carrie January 5, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Have you considered the retractable pool covers? They’re a lot less unsightly then they used to be and you”ll able to keep the pool totally sealed when not in use. Grace could literally walk across the cover and never touch water and you eliminate the need for a fence.
    Also, regardless of your decision about the pool I say start swimming lessons ASAP! It will be the greatest gift to Grace (and your peace of mind) and I imagine she will just love it. She’s also at a great age to get her comfortable in and around the water.

  10. Kim January 5, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    While it does depend on the level of your anxiety, I would keep the pool! I had a pool at my grandparents’ house where I spent the majority of my summers and spent all day every day with friends swimming from the age of 4 or 5. My parents bought a house with a pool when I was older and I definitely didn’t use it as much, but my brother could swim laps at the age of 3! I now have 6 year old half-brothers who live in the pool May-September, and at 6 they can swim with an adult watching them through a window. We also have a retractable pool cover that is really amazing… supposedly it can handle the weight of an elephant! It wasn’t even a worry with the twins when they were little because we just had the cover on when not using the pool. Anyways, based on my experience, I would say keep it. Good luck with whatever you decide!

  11. Chasha January 5, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    This is a tough one however, I would have to go with keeping the pool. It is beautiful and little ones don’t stay little. We moved to a house 2 years ago with a pool. It did not leave much yard but I have to say it makes the back beautiful. Now as far as the baby it’s major stress. It is so important that she learn to swim ASAP regardless of your pool decision. Take it from a middle-aged girl who was never taught to swim so she will be taking lessons (private in my own pool) before she has grandchildren.

  12. Vanessa January 5, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    I’m a writer/editor and when I was pregnant with my son, I edited a book by a woman whose 7-year-old (a strong swimmer who lived on a lake) drowned. At the time, we had a pool in our backyard and I came to the realization that I’m too much of a worrier to have a pool and young children at the same time. We filled our pool in and, although it was strange to pay a lot of money to bring in fill and do the work — only to end up with something less rather than something more! — it enabled me to sleep at night, which is priceless. Different things work for different families, but you have to do what your gut is telling you is the right choice for your family.

  13. Dana McDowell January 5, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Getting rid of such a wonderful feature (not all poolscapes are that beautiful!) makes me sick to even think about! I would wrap the planters in bubble-wrap or create a bumper cylinder around them before ever removing them permanently. Coming from a Midwest girl who had a hill as a backyard, thus never had a pool growing up.

  14. Lyn January 5, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Spend the money on a self-closing gate, get a cover, do whatever you have to do to make it safe, but don’t get rid of it. They are babies for such a small amount of time, and as a mother of a 6 & 4 year old (in a hot climate), all you want is for them to be outside & getting some exercise & a pool is the best option for this! We are so grateful for ours!

  15. Claire January 5, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    You work full time. Your child will be under sitter’s eye the majority of daytime. All you need is for her to be distracted by a ringing cell. Plus every second while you’re at work, you’re going to be crazy thinking if back door was left open.

  16. Koren January 5, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    Keep the pool! Invest in teaching the kids how to swim and then revel in the joy of watching them swim on a regular basis several months out of the year. I grew up in California in a community where everyone had a pool and I didn’t. I begged my parents for one every single year. They are a fabulous luxury and your kids will LOVE it!

  17. Kristin January 5, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    I’d fill that pool in faster than you can say top soil…just not worth the worry…there must be a nearby pool or country club you can join instead, right?

  18. elz January 5, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    KEEP IT! I live in Houston with 2 young girls (they were 1 and 3 when we moved, 6 and 8 now), and our pool doesn’t have a cover. We just trained them not to go out back without us. It is SO worth it to just pop out back to go swimming. We don’t have to schlepp anywhere to go swimming. We have tons of parties and the pool is a big draw. It’s also really convenient for swim lessons.
    We’ve had two friends fill in pools when their kids were little. 4 years later one family moved to a house with a pool and one goes to a club EVERY single day in the summer to swim. We used to have a huge backyard and didn’t use it in the summer b/c it is too bloody hot. You are going to want that pool. TRUST me. Your family & friends will use it as well.

  19. Ann Ruggles January 6, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    Keep the pool! There are ways around the safety issues, and I guarantee you, in three years, you and Gracie are going to want a pool to swim in during the summer. Even if you have to totally overhaul the backyard and pool, you need it! You’re in Texas!

  20. Reilly January 7, 2013 at 9:34 am

    My cousin grew up with a pool in FL, very similar to yours. By the time they were Gracie’s age, their mother could throw them into the center of the pool and they would bob to the surface, flip on their back and kick to the side. Like it was a party trick (super disturbing to see someone toss their baby in a pool, btw). They had someone come in and teach their babies that trick for survival, as they too had no backyard ‘cept the pool. Get an alarm. Keep the fence until YOU are ready, but you live in Texas for crying out loud. If you can afford to tear it out and put a smaller pool in, go for it….but its a really nice pool. You will want Gracie to have a pool in about 2 years…until forever. I’d rip out the water feature so you have a little sandbox area (and later loungey dining). If you lived anywhere else in the country (besides the deep south or CA), my answer may be different.

  21. Tami January 7, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Filling in the pool is a good choice. I experienced terrible anxiety about our pool and it was never worth it (we did end up filling it in).

  22. Tami January 7, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Filling in the pool is a good choice. I experienced terrible anxiety about our pool and it was never worth it (we did end up filling it in). Small pool or large pool, little ones still can drown.

  23. Angela January 8, 2013 at 1:38 am

    If the pool won’t bring your family enjoyment, fill er in. I luuuuv pools, though, I would get (if possible) a hard cover. And tear out the fountain and all the other hardscaping possible. My 2 cents. It doesn’t make you a brat to get rid of what someone else’s idea of a nice backyard was…especially if it doesn’t suit having kids. And sorry to tell you I’ve been praying against ND all day. I live in the S.B area (True story I saw Manti Teo in the yarn aisle at Hobby Lobby last month) and I am not a ND fan…SO. Tired. Of hearing about it. Hope you have fun in Miami!

  24. Steph January 8, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Wondering if you got rid of the planters then you could put a pretty amazing cover (like, dance floor at a wedding cover) on the pool and then either take it off for a month or so to get bebe used to it etc? So hot in houston all the time…and can also say that I was raised with a huge pool in our backyard and I’d liken it to kids who (not me) are raised with guns (maybe more dangerous but I have no children so lets move forward)- if you’re taught really early- like NOW- what it is maybe its not a danger? Swim lessons is a great idea- and my three sisters and I are all major water babies because we grew up with one so…anyway, just thoughts. Love the blog as always- and ps, we want to see inside the house and see whatyou had up your sleeves for this one!! xo Steph

  25. Blair January 8, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    I grew up with a pool and lived to see adult hood. Baby swim class is obviously the best way to advert disaster along with locks on your doors, fences, ect. I would look into getting rid of the planters and getting a serious (see the dance floor suggestion) cover that hangs out exceot when it’s in use. At then end of the day trust your instincts, but when she turns 6 you’re gonna want the water wonderland back for the summer heat wave.

  26. Xenia January 18, 2013 at 7:31 am


    My vote is to fill in that pool. You will feel a whole lot better. Not having a pool is not the end of the world.

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